Artist $napshot: L.A. and Berlin-based painter and photographer

How an artist splits his time between the U.S. and Europe while earning between $1,500 and $2,600 a month

Artist $napshot: L.A. and Berlin-based painter and photographer
Image of dollar bill, camera, paint and paintbrushes over an outline of California.

The Artist Pay Project is a series exploring how artists in the U.S. survive and thrive amid a cost of living crisis.

This Artist $napshot tells the story of a 29-year-old painter and photographer who earns between $1,500 and $2,600 a month.


Art Practice: Painter and photographer

Location: Los Angeles, CA and Berlin, Germany

Age: 29

Pronouns: He/Him


Income: $1,500 to $2,600 a month

How much of your income is from your art practice?


Where does the rest of your income come from?

Part-time restaurant job where I make $1,400 a month.

How much are you paid for your recent freelance or contract work?

Photographed youth sports teams for $300, headshots for an actress for $350, painting sold in payments of $400 monthly.

How do you price your art?

Pricing is determined by size, year and from where/ who it's being sold. Price ranges from $1,200 to $8,000.



I live with my girlfriend in Berlin. When I am in L.A., I stay with family for about two to three months out of the year. In Berlin, my rent for a 1 bedroom apartment is 700 euros (about $760) split with my partner.

What are your major monthly expenses?

Food — $400 per month; health insurance — about $100 per month

Do you have any expenses related to your art practice?

Studio rent is 300 euros (about $327) a month. I buy all my supplies in bulk so I usually have enough stuff for months at a time.

Larger financial picture

Do you have any financial support from outside sources?


Have you received any grants to support your art?


Do you have health insurance?


Do you have any debt?


Do you have any savings?

Yes — I put a good amount of my savings in a brokerage stock account. So that's what I consider my savings. And the last time I checked, it was about $30,000.

Did you pursue higher education?

No, but I am currently applying to go to school.

Anything else you’d like to add?

When I am in Los Angeles, I do not pay rent since I stay with family. This allows me to save up some money which comes in handy when I go back to Berlin since I can’t work in Germany due to my visa. My visa only allows me to do freelance work with my art.


Responses edited lightly for length and clarity.

How do you feel about your financial security right now?

It's a bit of uncertainty I would say. When I'm in L.A., I feel a little bit more secure, because I'm able to work. It's easy for me to work part time. I just got off from working at a restaurant job. I work there part time and the rest I work on my art. When I live in Berlin the other half of the year, I have to mostly survive from art there, because my visa does not permit for me to work a normal job. That's pretty much it. I always have to rely on some sort of part-time job for the sense of security.

How many months of the year are you in L.A. and how many are you in Berlin typically?

It has varied. I have been doing this for the last three years. But this year so far, I've been in L.A. this entire time. Last year, I spent about six months in L.A.

Are there differences that you've seen with how artists make a living in Berlin versus in the U.S.?

I feel there's a lot more government funding in Germany. I've met a lot of artists who have been living from scholarships or grants. That's one thing I've noticed. Also, the cost of living in Berlin is a lot cheaper  — financially, it's a lot easier of a city to live off of.

What are your financial goals?

It's hard to say. I'm kind of living more presently and that sort of thing. At some point, a few years ago, I was aiming towards wanting to be a homeowner. I even started saving up. I've always worked part time, even when I have a good streak, or a good few months where I'm selling pretty well. I still try to work just because I don't know. At any point, I could just not sell.

I've always tried to live as much as possible from a part-time job and then put any art sales in my savings. I’ve just been accumulating as much as I can for my savings from any extra art sales. As far as the goals right now — I've been saving up for some years, and originally it was to put a down payment on a house in 7-10 years. I don't have big aspirations to be a homeowner as much anymore, but I'm still saving up.

What are the biggest challenges that you face when it comes to making a living as an artist and what resources do you think would help you the most?

The biggest challenge is just the consistency. Never fully knowing. Because I did live off of [my art] in 2019 for about a year, but I didn't have the biggest peace of mind. It was always just the feeling of not knowing when your next check will come in. And just having that peace of mind is the biggest challenge, at least for me.

With resources, what would probably help is having more exposure, or more gallery representation. But even then, I know that doesn't guarantee security. I think it would be cool to change the model — the model of how the art world runs.

What would that look like for you?

It's something I've never really thought through, but an idea that I've always imagined is just there being guaranteed income for artists. If you were to get some sort of gallery representation and not fully base [payment] on sales. Possibly, galleries could charge a small fee. All galleries are free, but I always imagined some sort of comparison to music, when you go to a music show and you buy your ticket, or a museum. I wonder how it would work if there was a gallery fee that would go to the artists.

I’m curious about your choice to live in Berlin and L.A. — how did that happen?

I'm from L.A. and I just wanted to live in Europe for some years. And Berlin felt like the most fitting.

Read more about the Artist Pay Project.

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